Bromley High Street trade booming after internet deliveries blow
Businesses reported a boom in trade as customers returned to the high street instead of using online companies during the Big Freeze.
Many large internet firms, including Amazon, issued warnings that they wouldn’t be able to deliver presents in time for Christmas due to a backlog after two large snowfalls.
It meant more customers braved the Artic conditions to go to their local shops in Bromley instead of big shopping centres or using the web.
Glades general manager, Howard Oldstein, said: “Despite some challenging times, from the recent spell of bad weather to tighter household budgets, it seems the nation really wanted to enjoy their Christmas.
“The recent bad weather seemed to merely postpone Christmas spending by a few days. Shoppers wanted to spend and play catch up.”
Traders revelled in the extra footfall from customers who were wary of travelling too far afield or using the internet.
Gary Crawford, 44, owner of Beckenham Toys in High Street, said: “People seem to have stayed local instead of going to Bromley or Bluewater.
“I timed my sledges just right- we sold out of 100 in less than 24 hours but we could have sold 200 if we had them in stock. We’re hoping it snows again around January 4 because that’s when I’m getting more sledges.”
Chris Bernard-Baker, owner of Furley & Baker sports shop in High Street, Beckenham said: “People cancelled their online orders and bought from us instead. It seemed to be a last-minute Christmas.
“Because companies sent out emails saying they couldn’t deliver on time, people came into the shops. Normally shopkeepers are knows to moan but it’s been good.”
In recent years the internet has overtaken the high street for Christmas shopping, with percentile increases in market share year on year. But for those who had planned on saving time by ordering online, the Big Freeze was nothing but an inconvenience when they discovered their goods would come after December 25.
Sales executive Emma Mooney, from Bromley, 23, bought a CD from Amazon on December 5 but it had still not arrived just two days before Christmas.
She said: “It’s annoying because I had get a refund then drive to the HMV at the Nugent shopping centre in Orpington and try to in a busy car park when I didn’t have time.”
Steve Gorman, assistant manager of booksellers Waterstones in The Glades, Amazon’s high street rival, said: “We have had a very optimistic Christmas. It has been better than last year.
“People were initially put off by the big snow but I think we made up for those lost two or three days trade. It goes to show that high street will always be more reliable than the internet.”
Business experts said the weather may have taught companies more efficient working practices which they should aim to make permanent.
South East London Chamber of Commerce Vice President Daphne Clifton said: “Businesses may have learnt to work smarter, with more flexibility about working from home and with different shift patterns.
“Necessity is the mother of invention. People seem to have come together. There has been an acceptance that the weather has happened but it’s given people a chance to take stock of how they work.”
Councillor for renewal and recreation at Bromley council, Julian Benington, said: “Our anecdotal evidence suggests that retailers across the borough are trading reasonably well in line with or better than the national picture.
“Undoubtedly footfall and trade has been affected by the weather conditions and in reality, the situation will not be totally clear for different sectors and different retailers until figures are evaluated in the New Year.”